Occasionally, I’m asked by other criminal defense lawyers if I have any hesitation writing about or publicly approving of “prosecution wins” – cases where the defendant was found guilty. As a Massachusetts criminal defense attormey, the answer is no, I don’t: I don’t at all believe that truly guilty persons, or persons who are proven to be an obvious threat to public safety, should not be incarcerated. I don’t want my safety, my wife’s safety, or the safety of those whom I care about, to be threatened by a clearly dangerous person who should inarguably be off the streets. What I do want, and what I firmly believe in, is due process and the right to be defended zealously in court, prior to any determination of guilt. But if someone has been proven to be an obvious and serious threat to public safety, I have no problem congratulating the prosecution on a conviction, and for putting a dangerous person behind bars.
So it’s in that vein, that I offer my recognition to the Bristol County District Attorney’s office, in the conviction earlier this week of one Corey Deen Saunders. Saunders, an especially twisted human being, is a previously convicted sex offender who raped a 6 year old boy in the New Bedford Free Public Library last year. Yes, that’s right – in a public library, just feet away from his mother, who was using a library computer. Saunders was sentenced yesterday to life in prison by a Massachusetts Superior Court judge who ruled that only a lengthy jail sentence could prevent Saunders from harming more children.
In his decision, Superior Court Judge Robert J. Kane wrote, “We now know that Saunders is not amenable to rehabilitation,” adding that “the history of Saunders’ constant abuse of children . . . and his insincerity silence any claims that Saunders will effectively control his sexual urges.” He had been on probation for a previous conviction of trying to rape a 7-year-old, and was supposed to “stay away” from children. (How, exactly, a condition like that is supposed to be effectively policed, is still beyond me and many other legal experts. Electronic monitoring bracelets can presently only monitor where someone is, not what someone’s doing.) Saunders had been released from prison earlier after he served a four-year prison term, in spite of prosecutors’ requests to keep him jailed, and in spite of their arguments that he was still a danger to children. He is presently serving a five-year prison sentence for violating probation for that earlier conviction. When that sentence is completed, Saunders will remain an esteemed guest of the Massachusetts state prison system for at least fifteen years, when he will be eligible for parole. The reason he will be eligible for parole: While he was sentenced to a life term, only certain crimes, such a Murder In the First Degree, exclude any possibility of parole.
Saunders had admitted to court psychologists a history of molesting boys while staying in foster homes and state programs. He had a disturbed childhood, psychologists said in the court records, and a low intelligence level. The mother of the 6-year-old boy who was victimized by Saunders in this case submitted a letter to the court yesterday saying, “Please understand that this man tried to take my son’s innocence away,” she said. “He is a danger to children in society,” she said. “Not another child nor family should go through the pain that we have endured.”
Amen to that.